Introduction

This collection of spry creeks, verdant mountains and mirror lakes resonates as unadulterated Andes. West of Esquel, this 2630-sq-km park protects some of the largest forests of ancient alerce (Fitzroya cupressoides) that still remain. In 2017 it was declared a Unesco World Heritage site thanks to these specimens, which have survived up to 4000 years. While its wild backcountry supports the seldom-seen huemul (Andean deer) and other wildlife, Los Alerces functions primarily as a trove of botanical riches that characterize the dense Valdivian forest.

Lured by well-known parks to the north and south, most hikers miss this gem, which makes it all the more enjoyable for those who do visit. Since the Andes are relatively low here, westerly storms deposit nearly 3m of rain annually. The park’s eastern sector is much drier. Winter temperatures average 2°C, but it can be much colder. The summer average high reaches 24°C, but evenings are usually cool.